In response to Claudette’s Writing Challenge #15: Charisma
Charisma is about personal appeal. And personal appeal is often based in an individual’s intuitive abilities. We have all had the experience of immediate like or dislike when first encountering a new acquaintance. What actually goes into that response? A great many factors.
Feelings, especially those generated by past experiences. A person might use the same tone of voice that our third grade teacher used to shame us in front of the classroom. It would be difficult to get past the feelings attached to those memories. We might not actually remember the third grade incident, but that tone of voice can set off an immediate negative response that tells us to move carefully and to stay alert to some unknown danger.
On the other hand, we might see an individual doing, or being engaged, in an activity or mindset that has always appealed to us personally. That would be a draw, an element of attraction that is immediately accepted. When David Cook confessed that he was a ‘Word Nerd’, not only did I laugh with delight, but I also knew this was someone to keep my eye on. And I did just that.
Identification is another element of appeal and charisma. The more we can identify with a certain individual the more apt we are to accept them into our personal category as being okay. They are like us, and that makes us comfortable. We can understand and because we can do that, we can relax our guard. Or at least, we assume that we can do that.
Intuitive responses to those around us are extremely important clues, not just about the immediate situation and that particular individual, but about our own perceptions and read outs. They can and do tell us where we are coming from, and go a long way in helping us understand the person we are being and also becoming.
When I have a negative response to meeting someone, I don’t dismiss the response. When I am alone, I explore just what I felt and try to find out where that response originated. In that manner, I have discovered that certain manners and behaviors are a turn-off to me. They might remind me of old wounds that have not been healed and therefore need to be looked at more closely. Or they make me feel uncomfortable because I define them as negatives and possible problems in future contacts.
I don’t dismiss them because they exist for a reason. Finding the reason may open the door to a good strong lasting relationship, rather than the dismissal that prompted the negative response. But if the response continues, I will trust that I am sensing something even though I might not understand it. Something I need to pay attention to.
I think that is why reality shows like American Idol have so much appeal to the American Public. Week after week, we are allowed to test our own responses as the individuals are put through different tasks and levels of competition. We like certain characteristics and get an opportunity to see if the individual will follow through and prove our own feelings and perceptions to be correct, or even worthy.
I used to work with an elderly gentleman who was also a local radio personality. At one point, I was interviewed for a television broadcast and that situation led to a very interesting discussion about the viewing public. My friend said that he thought that although the American public is often told that they don’t know what is good or bad, television is one of the vehicles that allows them to make those choices.
He went on to say that there was something about the intimacy of the camera that allowed falseness and discrepancies to shine through. It didn’t matter how charismatic the individual might appear, if that charisma was just a put on, eventually that would simply become apparent. And further more, the viewing public would see it and act on it. After watching American Idol for the first time last year, and again this year, I would agree with his estimation and often think of his words as I am watching the program.
Yes, I have my personal favorites, but I also know why they are what they are. We are born with extremely good instincts, instincts that get battered sometimes in the growing up and socialization processes. We learn to doubt our own perceptions, rather than seeing them as the gift they were and are intended to be.
As children we have a deep desire to be just like everyone else. And many times, that means we will ignore our own intuitive responses in favor of the general consensus. But along with that process we become self-doubting about our own perceptions. Self-doubt is not a bad thing necessarily. No one is right or correct 100% of the time. Self-doubt is simply another opportunity to explore our own perceptions.
We get into trouble when we put too much emphasis on those doubts. They should be explored, even examined, but they shouldn’t automatically lead to dismissal of what we are feeling and thinking. One of the most important moments in our existence is that one when we realize that our own perceptions might not agree with the general consensus, but that certainly doesn’t mean they are wrong headed or incorrect. It could mean that they are simply more deeply and well thought out.
Do you take the time to explore your personal responses to the individuals you meet and encounter every day? Do you trust and respect your own intuitive and instinctual responses? If you do, when does that occur most frequently? If you don’t, what can you do to enhance that reality? And who do you think will be the next American Idol? More important, why do you think that, and are those personal perceptions or group consensus?